Printing is the process of making images on paper, cloth or other substrates. It includes everything from business cards to shopping bags and postage stamps. In addition, it includes other forms of publishing such as books, magazines, catalogs and folders. Historically, printing has evolved over time, with the introduction of new technology and techniques. Some of the early printing methods used wood blocks, while others were made from clay.
Movable type was invented in China during the Song Dynasty. Movable type allowed more creative printing modes to be developed. Instead of a set of characters being locked to an iron plate, movable type could be disassembled and redistributed as needed. This revolutionized the way people printed and the society in which it took place.
Woodblock printing was introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages. It was initially used to print texts on cloth. But by the thirteenth century, it was also used to print Buddhist scripture. During the Zhenguan years, the printing of religious manuscripts was also widespread, especially in China. These printed works were often large and elaborate, and often featured calligraphic traditions. Marco Polo may have seen one of these printed works, or at least read about them.
Early “journeyman printers” were free to travel and print wherever they went. They typically were between 15 and 20 years old, and did not require a literate background. Once they completed their apprenticeship, they were released to work independently. Usually they worked at print shops.
Before the invention of the movable type system, the printing of texts was labor-intensive. To make prints, “apprentices” had to learn the Latin language, and they prepared ink and dampened sheets of paper. Eventually, they would help set up the presses and run them. However, many nobles feared that printing might ruin hand-copied manuscripts.
By the sixteenth century, the role of Master Printer was largely replaced by the book seller. This led to the development of new kinds of funding for publications. Bookseller publishers often selected manuscripts for publication and sold them to subscribers. Printed works were distributed through trade fairs and print shops. A prospectus for publication was also given to potential buyers.
The movable type was eventually adopted by Europe. Its development was based on a machine that was similar to a wine press. After Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, he developed oil-based ink, raised type, and a method for distributing ink. His invention was influential in creating the modern mass communication.
Other important printing methods are screen and intaglio. Both methods involve the use of negative or positive image sources to create the image, while the screen technique involves the transfer of the image directly to the surface of the substrate.
Another method of printing is gravure. It uses the direct contact of a copper plate to paper. Gravure prints can be very large, and are ideal for long-run printing jobs.
Other methods include flexography, direct printing and planographic. Planographic printing is the process of transferring a photograph to a paper or fabric. Direct printing is used for small-volume jobs, while gravure is suitable for large-scale jobs.